“Never listen to other people’s expectations. You should live your life and live up to your own expectation.” -Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods is undoubtedly an inspirational person. He has battled through countless injuries and surgeries. Many believed he was done and would never be able to return to a fraction of his once dominating form, let alone win another green jacket. Although he did not dominate this past weekend, he proved all his naysayers wrong by donning his 5th green jacket and cementing what is arguably the greatest comeback in sports history.
Nationwide scandal and seven surgeries would cause most of us to give up and call it quits, but not for Tiger. He has a well-known history of playing through injuries during tournaments and famously won the 2008 US open with no ACL and stress fractures in his tibia. This did not stop Tiger then, and neither would the half a dozen other debilitating injuries that would follow. We see his perseverance through injuries and tough times, refusing to give up. Tiger showed us this past weekend that no matter how low the valley may seem, unwavering determination, hard-work, and perseverance shows us all how you achieve success.
Tiger attacked golf courses in his early career, playing each hole aggressively. A similar comparison can be drawn to new businesses when they start out, eager to gain large margins at great risk. As Tiger and our companies have matured, we wisely “plot our way” down each fairway and allow our experience to help us from repeating mistakes and make better decisions in the future.
Other than his sheer perseverance, studying how Tiger found success again in major tournaments can provide us a blueprint of how to achieve success in our businesses. Tiger had to adapt his swing and his game to account for his injuries and age. We must do the same as our organizations mature and undergo constant internal and external changes. Understanding your company’s strengths will help you take calculated risks. Identifying your company’s weaknesses allow you to correct and overcome them.
When you inevitably find yourself in the trees, take a step back, look at the situation as a whole and get back to the fairway. Instead of dumping more capital into a problem, return to your fundamentals to minimize your score, as we have seen Tiger do multiple times. Identify and plan to stay well clear of the hazards that each new hole or venture will present.
When your competition makes a mistake, keep your cool, like Tiger, and take advantage of this opportunity to replace them at the top of the leaderboard or the market. Once Tiger was in the lead, he never let up off the gas. When you are ahead, maintain laser-like focus no matter how short the putt or large the lead margin. The focus required on the first tee is just as important as the final tap-in putt on 18.
When your goal has been reached, take time to enjoy the moment and thank those who helped you along the way. After sinking the final putt, Tiger was seen embracing his caddie and saying, “We did it”. Golf is often thought of as an individual sport. However, Tiger showed us in that moment that no matter how great a single individual’s success may seem, there are always other people helping us achieve these incredibly difficult goals. As business leaders, we should take a page out of Tiger’s playbook and thank, congratulate and show our gratitude for those who helped us achieve success; without them, we’d be carrying all the weight of the clubs by ourselves.
Kelly D. Scott
The world’s leading business advisory and executive coaching organization